Research

I developed a theoretical basis to explain the evolutionary origin of stress-induced mutagenesis and study its effect on adaptation. My results show that stress-induced mutagenesis is favored by natural selection in asexual organisms (Ram & Hadany 2012) and that it increases the ability of populations to evolve complex adaptations, without jeopardizing their ability to remain adapted to stable environments (Ram & Hadany 2014). This suggests that stress-induced hypermutation should be common in bacteria and other asexual organisms and that it plays an important role in adaptive evolution.

My research adds to the ongoing shift in our understanding of mutation—one of the basic forces of evolution. Contrary to the classical view of mutation as an inevitable copying error, kept at bay by accurate replication and error-correction mechanisms, it becomes increasingly evident that mutation rates are controlled and regulated. These results have important implications for many fields in the medical and life sciences, including epidemiology, oncology, ecology, and evolutionary biology.

References

  • Ram, Y. and Hadany, L. (2014) Stress-induced mutagenesis and complex adaptation. Proceeding of the Royal Society B. 281: 20141025. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1025
  • Ram, Y. and Hadany, L. (2012) The evolution of stress-induced hypermutation in asexual populations. Evolution, 66: 2315-2328. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01576.x